As 5 p.m. approached on Valentine’s Day, it became apparent that no opponent would come forward to run against Katy Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris for the city’s at large council seat. A lack …
As 5 p.m. approached on Valentine’s Day, it became apparent that no opponent would come forward to run against Katy Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris for the city’s at large council seat. A lack of a competitor in the election automatically places Harris in the winner’s circle for the May 2 Katy City Council Election.
“I decided to run for reelection because the city we’ve made some great improvements in our projects and we still have a lot of improvement to go and I wanted to be part of that,” Harris said.
Harris’ goals for his upcoming 3-year term include a variety of things, especially concentrating on managing growth in a way that benefits residents, developing parks, getting commercial traffic under control in the city, protecting the city’s heritage and carefully managing Katy’s budget to ensure citywide goals are met.
“I would be challenged to say that we spend too much money in any area because all areas of city government is important,” Harris said.
While flood mitigation will remain a financial priority for the city, Harris said that he feels Katy City Council can also work on the other aspects of city management without letting flood mitigation overwhelm other important city business due to the progress the city has made in flood mitigation.
Each budgetary year is a unique challenge, Harris said. Last year, the Parks Department needed more money in order to finish outstanding projects such as the Katy Downtown Plaza and to improve parks throughout the city, Harris said. Last year’s budget also focused on public safety, he said. However, each budget year is different, and Harris anticipates money being needed for infrastructure such as a combined master plan for sidewalks and walkability throughout the city. A study to evaluate the city’s walkability and priorities regarding where to install sidewalks and what the priority is for each sidewalk project will likely be a part of Katy’s planning for the next year, he said.
“In my mind – as one council member – we can do one part of a project with the goal of expanding and expanding [that project over time] within our budget limits,” Harris said. “I think that’s a positive for the citizens.”
Some development issues such as zoning and permitting are more complicated, Harris said. He understands residents’ concerns regarding development and zoning, he said.
“We need to continue to encourage quality commercial growth in the city of Katy, but we do have to ensure that commercial growth is in commercial areas,” Harris said.
Growth has allowed the city to have the lowest property tax rate, in part due to bringing in sales tax revenue machines such as the Amazon distribution center on the western side of Katy, Harris said. However, he knows that zoning has to be relied on to guide the city into the future. For about 40 years, the city has had zoning and Harris thinks it may be time to reevaluate zoning to make sure it is optimized to help residents and protect the city’s small town feel that he thinks residents really value.
“We do have to ensure that commercial growth is in commercial areas and that we’re protecting our older neighborhoods and keeping residential areas quiet and the sort of place where families want to raise their children,” Harris said.
Harris added that he wants commercial growth to be near freeways where residents would expect to see it, rather than in the heart of downtown or other residential areas.
As the city grows, Harris said he is also concerned about commercial vehicle traffic within city limits. Harris said he intends to work with state and county officials regarding the problem that commercial vehicle traffic represents for the city, including possibly arranging an official commercial vehicle route for trucks moving across the city. He hoped that whomever is elected to outgoing Harris County Commissioner Steve Raddack’s seat would work on improving roads north of Katy to assist in large vehicle traffic in the area, among other concerns Katy and Harris County would need to work together on, he said.
“For the first time since 1989, we are going to have a new Harris County Commissioner [for Precinct 3] next year and so I hope to be able to work with whichever commissioner we have for Harris County,” Harris said.
Harris added that continuing to work with all three counties that overlap city limits will continue to be important for transportation – and for drainage. Waller County is experiencing a great deal of growth, Harris said.
“We need to be able to work with Waller County as a whole because Waller County is … experiencing a lot of growth,” Harris said. “Most of that area is unincorporated so the water from that area is headed the city of Katy’s way, so we need to continue to work with [the Brookshire-Katy Drainage District] and Waller County – especially for flood control projects.”
Drainage is another reason Harris said he wanted to file for reelection. The city has multiple projects under development to mitigate flooding and Harris said he wants to see those through.
“We have a major project in Riceland Terrace that is something I want to see to completion,” Harris said.
Still, parks and maintaining Katy as a good place to raise a family will continue to be a top priority for Harris, he said.
“Parks are something I ran on [in 2018] and I want to be able to continue that,” Harris said.